Fly Casting- A little more on the Double Haul

as a follow up to yesterday’s post Explaining the Double Haul, friend and instructor colleague Craig Buckbee a.k.a. EasternCaster offered a brilliantly simple addition, something every person of any level of fly casting can really benefit from by keeping in the forefront of the mind when practicing the double haul:

“The rod hand initiates the cast, the line hand finishes the cast”

that simple statement/mantra-to-be-mumbled-over-and-over actually says/implies a lot about great hauling form and great casting in general but there’s a few more things to add to this topic so i’ll just leave it at that for today and encourage you to not only try it out but also think about it for a while.

as for this somewhat cryptic image, here’s a minor tip that came in handy to help solve a little issue a casting student of mine had during a course a few months back. i know its a little off-the-shelf but if it can help someone else then it’ll be well, just great.

the situation: this gentleman had been falsley lead to believe for many-many years by a bunch of bozos that the double-haul was a ‘specialist’s’ technique only to be used by the elite to cast very far… and as a result and as primarily a river trout fisher, had never learned to haul but heard the contrary here and there and was keen to learn.

Krieger's Haul drill mono loop m.fauvet-TLC 5-1-16

by far, i prefer to have students use the type of gear they’ll be using in their ‘everyday’ fishing but he was having a little trouble getting the right feel and timing for the feedback so i pulled out my Mel Krieger Hauling Reel backup (it’s a shooting head with a mono shooting line – see the video below) and included Mel’s drill as part of the afternoon’s tasks.

this started off really well for those specific difficulties and after a few minutes they where almost a thing of the past however, whether it was his aging hands combined with the thinnish shooting mono or, 20-30 years of being used to slipping line through the fingers whilst false casting reflex, the end result was an excess amount of overhang after each casting cycle and as anyone who’s cast a shooting line knows, there’s only so much overhang possible before things start to get nasty, ugly and frustrating or in other words, this was turning into negative, unproductive time spent by the student.

since there’s no actual line shooting involved in this drill and after noticing how line slippage was quickly becoming the centre of his attention instead of the key elements (and also noticing how i was starting to sweat whilst trying to find a solution quickly… ) i decided to eliminate the impedment by cutting the shooting line at the correct overhang length and tie a simple loop knot that could be easily held.

line slippage became impossible, focus shifted back to the task and after a few minutes, the beginner hauler became quite proficient. enough so that when he re-installed his ‘normal’, thicker, non-slippery line back on the rod, everything went fine and dandy and the Mister left a happy-hauling camper.

in novels and movies i really like it when the hero gets her/his brains blown out or the couple ends by a grueling divorce but when it comes to casting lessons, a happy ending is always a win-win.

and as another happy ending, here’s Mel ! enjoy !

Fly Casting- the LOco WriSt !!! (revised)

still very much convinced that uncontrolled and/or excessive wrist movement is the number 1 cause of most fly casting problems, i thought a little rewrite of the original article was due.
as always, your thoughts and comments are very welcome. i hope this helps.

LOco WriSt !!!

are you one of those limp-wristed, flip-flopping, out of control, hand-flailing, line all over the place fly casters ?
if so, give this a try next time you go out for a practice session. of course you won’t be able to fish this way but the idea is to get the ‘feeling’ of what having a firm wrist/forearm connection can do and how it almost always makes a decent caster a much-much better one.

having good control of the wrist is just like magic. all of a sudden the flyline starts going back and forth in their intended directions, flies start avoiding trees and grass and remain attached to the leader, waterside friends stop giggling and it all usually involves catching a few more fish and a lot less frustration and sweat. all good, huh ?

let’s see how it works. if we don’t control our wrist and allow it to pivot in an uncontrolled manner we start casting in big great dome-shaped convex arcs in the same manner that windshield wipers move. since the line is supposed to do what the rod tip does, the whole line goes back and forth mimicking the dome-shaped course the rod tip took. these big open loops leave the line to the mercy of wind, take up a lot more space than necessary, the line tip and leader often land in an uncontrolled pile and any kind of accuracy is severely compromised. and it’s ugly.

the reel against the forearm method above is as noted, just a way to get a better feel of how we should try to cast, at least in the learning or relearning stage. turn the handle around and gently press the bottom of the reel against your arm and start casting as normal using the whole arm and all it’s joints instead of just the wrist and watch the loops tighten up. wow, they’re even SEXY !!! (of sorts…) but what this mostly shows us is that you’re in control of the rod and line.
there are gimmicks and gizmos on the market in the form of straps that attach to the rod butt preventing it from going away from the forearm which do about the same thing but most of the time people just revert to flip-flopping as soon as the strap comes off and i guess they must feel a little sore for having just spent 29.99 for nothing… whereas this method costs nothing and doesn’t allow the wrist to bend and that’s where this shines.

ok, so we’ve felt the ‘feel’ but what next ?  well, after casting like this for a while and once we’ve turned the reel back to it’s normal downward position, one of the tricks is to pretend that the hand and forearm are a solid unit just as if we were wearing a plaster-cast, recreating what we’ve learned by inverting the reel. whether we want to or not the wrist is going to move a little anyway and that’s good, mission accomplished.

the real remedy is a ‘mental thing’. for this to work we need to be constantly ‘telling’ our arm/body what to do instead of letting it do as it wishes or rather, what it’s been used to doing before.
it involves getting rid of old automatic reactions and replacing them with new ones (some call this muscle memory) and this all takes a little time (regular practice), work and perseverance but it’s well worth it.
later on, when this new skill is acquired and flip-flopping is no longer an issue we can start to use the wrist constructively in a controlled manner: that’s fine tuning an acquired skill.
another undeniably good and very important aspect of this ‘blocked wrist’ method is that it forces us to learn to move our elbows and shoulder more than before to achieve a proper cast.
simple logic tells us that for a  certain motion it will be better to have the stronger and bigger muscles and joints do most of the force work and let the weaker/smaller yet more mobile and faster joints refine the movement. the strong to weaker order is:  shoulder/elbow/wrist/fingers.

keep in mind that all of us at every level need to work on just one thing at a time and wrist control really needs to be under check to move on.

if you’re having wrist issues, please give this a try and let me know if it helps, ok ?

a new Twist on Twists.

or, how to very easily untwist your fly line by Zack Dalton of Rio via Gink and Gasoline

oh, so simple and oh, so easy and oh so, feck, why didn’t i think of that ?!

Zack’s demonstration is so good there’s nothing to add there. i do however want to expand a bit more as to why fly lines twist. there’s 3 reasons brought up in the video, let’s take a closer look at them.

1-  i need to be honest, point 1: ‘fly size/wind resistance to the fly’ doesn’t make a lot of sense. this would require such an amazingly unbalanced fly/leader/fly line combination and repeatedly casting it that it’s really hard to imagine happening in real. sure, twisting does indeed happen with certain flies but it’s the leader that becomes twisted and tangles first, looking something like a messy bird’s nest. it’s pretty safe to say the angler, getting absolutely nowhere with this and seeing this mess would stop and untangle long before the lighter, thinner and flexible balled-up twisted leader would work it’s way back and have any effect on the heavier, thicker, and stiffer fly line.

– Zack’s reason 2 is connected to and is in sequence to reason 3 so we’ll come to that later.

2- reason ‘3’ (hmmm, this is starting to get confusing… )  is the big one and it has to do with casting in different planes. casting in different planes means that the fly line isn’t being cast perfectly straight over the rod tip in both back and forward casts. casting over the rod tip doesn’t necessarily mean a purely vertical overhead cast either, the casting plane can be at any angle. if one casts perfectly over the rod tip, fly line twists don’t happen.
an easily understood example of casting in different planes in the aerial cast family is the Elliptic, Oval or falsely-known-as Belgium cast. the back-cast is performed to the side and the front cast is done by casting overhead. the very same principle applies to the roll-cast/spey family because you can’t successfully cast these with the D-loop directly below the rod, the anchor needs to be to the side.

so, what happens is the line gets a half or so twist with every false or complete casting cycle and the half twists in the line that we’ll find between the stripping guide and reel start to add up quickly and this brings us to reason 2.

3- if we cast to the reel at every delivery (the line goes tight from its tip end all the way to the reel, there’s often a little ‘bump’ feeling) the line gets the chance to completely untwist before it lands on the water. the twist gets pulled out while in the air. there isn’t this ‘inert’ length of line between the line hand or pile on the water/ground/stripping basket/whatever and the reel.
if we have too much line out of the reel for that specific fishing distance, the twists remain coiled up between the rod’s stripping guide and the reel and those twists continue to increase in numbers as the casting goes and if we attempt to shoot line, the twists catch on the first thing they can. usually it’s the stripping guide of the rod but it could be anything anywhere around the line’s path and of course the cast is screwed up and if you’re lucky you might even get a ‘wind’ knot from recoil !

note- it might seem like i’m saying that since it leads to a problem, casting out of plane is wrong. it most definitely isn’t. it’s a basic part of most casting styles and it’s a very safe bet to state that 99% of casters do not cast their lines exactly over the rod tip, myself included. once again, i simply wanted to explain the causes.
line twist at one point or another is simply inevitable and just a part of fly fishing/casting but thanks to great tips like Zack’s, at least one of our problems just got a whole lot easier to live with.